Both are focused on the study of the history and cultural legacies of Africans and African Americans, the intellectual contributions of major African and African American scholars and cultural workers, and the crucial issues confronting African and African American communities throughout the world. Students in AAAS are thus able to apply their university learning as knowledgeable, engaged members of their home communities.

For further information about African and African American Studies, contact program director:
Dr. Ivy Forsythe-Brown.

More about African and African American Studies

African and African American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree housed in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The AAAS major offers students a broad knowledge of essential aspects of the African American experience in the United States, as well as an understanding of the continuities between African civilization and the cultures of Africans in the Diaspora.  Students will have a grasp of the critical movements for change in African and African American history, as well as the contributions of outstanding political leaders, intellectuals and artists.  

Knowledge of the struggles of Africans and African descendants throughout the Diaspora for greater human rights and a higher quality of life will be a central feature of the major.  These pedagogical objectives will be facilitated by a commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and approaches that emphasize the value of an internationalist perspective.

In addition, students will master research and writing competence.  They will have the opportunity to undertake independent research projects under the direction of faculty members.   It is hoped that such projects will be tied to critical social issues facing the Metropolitan Detroit community or communities in the wider African diaspora. 

Degree Requirements

The major will consist of 30 credit hours, 24 of which must be at the upper division level.  To complete a minor in AAAS, a student must complete 18 credit hours of coursework in the African and African American Studies Program. AAAS 300, Introduction to Africana Studies, is the required introductory course to the major and the minor. 

Read more about CASL Degree Requirements.

Program Goals

Students completing the African and African American Studies degree will acquire knowledge concerning the following:

  • The continuities of beliefs, cultural principles and structures, customs and practices of everyday life that link continental African cultures and African diasporan cultures.
  • The major developments of African American history from the American colonial period to the present; the canon texts and central thinkers in African and African American intellectual history, as well as the relation of this historical legacy to the emergence of the discipline of African and African American Studies.
  • The cultural production and achievements of Africans and African Americans in the visual and performing arts and literature.
  • The critical role played by African and African American labor in the U.S. and European economies, from the slave trade to the contemporary global economy.
  • The significant role of the family, multiple religious and spiritual practices, and the Black Church, in sustaining African American communities.
  • The social, political and economic difficulties and prejudices faced by other marginalized sectors of U.S. society.
  • The value of achieving an international and global consciousness to function effectively in the 21st Century.

In addition, AAAS majors will be able to demonstrate:

  • Analysis of the progress, setbacks, important movements and the contributions of major leaders in African American and diasporan historical development.
  • Ability to draw connections between contemporary African American social problems (e.g. the wide­ scale poverty characteristic of African American urban communities), their historic roots, and relevant hegemonic policies and practices.
  • Competence in research methods, oral presentation and expository writing.

Scholarship Support

Dr. Ahmad Rahman (associate professor of history) was a great leader at UM-Dearborn, and a passionate Civil Rights activist. He passed away September 21, 2015 at the age of 64.

In his memory, a scholarship was created. Your gift provides aid to our future leaders majoring or minoring in African and African American Studies.


Congratulations go out to co-founder of our African and African American Studies program and Professor Emerita Gloria House. She has received the 2019 Kresge Eminent Artist award, one of the biggest arts honors bestowed on Detroiters for a lifetime of work. This is an annual award reserved for those who've made distinguished contributions to the arts and the community at large.

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